She had reason to freak out. While she couldn't hurt me, I certainly could hurt her. Simply because she existed, and I happened to see her. I don't want to be this threat to another being. I've hurt living beings far too many times out of fear that wasn't valid. I don't want to generate panic in another. Thankfully, this time I was somewhat present. So . . I turned around and left.
A few minutes later, I came down again, turned ON the light and, of course, she was nowhere to be seen. I'm grateful I didn't harm her. But I did frighten her. I wish I'd had enough presence to send a different message of "Let's both calm down and work this out." After all, we wanted the same thing - to have nothing to do with each other.
Our cats, Jack and Sallie, took a sudden interest in our front closet. This led me to discover that a squirrel had gotten into the attic, fallen down an interior wall, and couldn't get out. So he chewed a hole through the wall, landing him in the front closet. Apparently he'd been squeezing out under the closet door and running around our place trying to find a way out. Then he'd end up back in the closet.
So, just as I was leaving for an appointment, commotion broke out. The squirrel was in the living room, under the couch. I threw a blanket in front of the closet door to stop him from retreating back into the wall. But then my sanity began to slip away as I imagined the squirrel biting the cats, or chewing up my place. (Really?! He's gonna stop and chew things up while I'm chasing him?) I lifted up the couch, trying to get him out. This freaked him out even more and caused him to race around the place, bang into the closed windows and screen door, and then end up back under the couch. We repeated this scene several times, getting no closer to a resolution. Had I remained calm and thought for a moment, I might have realized that he was not an enemy, and he wanted out of our space as badly as I wanted him out. I could have simply put the cats in a room out of the way, opened the windows and screens, and let the squirrel run out.
But I was freaking out, so that didn't occur to me. I was also concerned about being late for my appointment. My son finally said, "Just go. I'll handle this." I knew he could, so gratefully I left. At this point, things quickly calmed down.
Michael quickly shut the door, blocked the space under the door with a blanket and grabbed a laundry basket. As Michael approached the squirrel, it ran around the room, slammed into Jack and bounced off, then re-hide in the corner. Michael said that when the squirrel slammed into Jack, the impact shoved Jack sideways. But Jack remained upright and stayed absolutely calm. This scene repeated itself a few more times, with the squirrel taking the exact same path, including slamming into Jack each time, until Michael managed to trap the squirrel under the basket.
Michael called a neighbor to help, and together they slid a board under the basket and carried the squirrel down to the park.
When I got home and heard the story, I realized how inhumane I'd been. The squirrel was terrified. He was also thirsty and hungry from being trapped for several days. Yet all I was thinking was, "Don't be here. Get out!." Well, he was trying! Jack's calm approach was such a contrast to mine. I could have treated the squirrel with that same compassion, instead of frantically chasing after him and adding to his fear.
This is what I was remembering when I saw the spider freak out.
It takes awareness and being present. It takes ignoring fears that I've been taught which are not valid and choosing to be calm, like Jack and Michael. I feel much better about myself when I respond as they did.